Grimbergen Goud 8º (8%, 33 cl)

Grimbergen Goud 8º, together with Grimbergen Optimo Bruno are the specialities in the range of Grimbergen Beers. The other beers in the Grimbergen range are the usual suspects in Abbey Beers: Blond, Dubbel & Tripel. Recently I already reviewed Grimbergen Optimo Bruno, so I’m happy to review this Grimbergen Goud 8º to complete (already) the Grimbergen Specialties. Goud 8º is a strong Blonde Beer that has an additional fermentation in the bottle, also some aromatic hops are used.

Color: Orange Gold with light yellow to white foam.

Nose: Light and fresh. Yeast, as in white bread. The nose has a summery feel to it. Also some hops, but not a lot. Dust and unlit cigarette tobacco.

Taste: Well, this tastes like a Tripel really. Fresh with slightly warming alcohol. Nice and unpretentious. Hints of esters, dried apricots and orange skin. It’s a bit of a shame, this does not continue into the finish. The finish itself is a bit sour and light. This does have a small hint of cannabis on the taste though! Although the brand is owned by Heineken, the beer does not come from Amsterdam. It is unknown how the Cannabis got into the mix 😉

Not a lot to add about this Grimbergen really. It’s not bad at all. A nice beer to drink outside or by the waterside and see people go by and enjoy. Nice Belgian Beer.

Points: 82

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St-Feuillien Blonde (7.5%, 33 cl)

This time a top-fermented Abbey beer made by Brasserie St-Feuillien (recently also called Brasserie Feuillien and/or Brasserie Roeulx). It’s history can be traced back to 1873 to the Friart Family, but the name, and the history behind it is much older. In the seventh century AD an Irish monk named Foillan (Faelan) passed through Le Roeulx to preach the gospel, but before he could do that he abused and finally beheaded by highwaymen. Right there where this happened, a chapel was built in his name (twelfth century AD). The chapel was eventually extended into an abbey, and as good Belgian monks do, they brew a great Beer on site…

Those of you who regularly read my Beer reviews know I like to age my Belgian Beers. Most Trappist and Abbey beers (top-fermented) usually get better with extra ageing, but not all. Some do get better, but become dirty, with sometimes a lot of unpleasant looking yeasty flakes floating in the Beer. This St-Feuillien Blonde was aged for an extra three years (quite unusual for a Blonde, even an Abbey one). Another thing that could affect the beer is the extremely hot day we’re having. (33° C), also quite unusual for this country.

Color: Brown Gold with very fine caramel colored fine cream.

Nose: Right out of the gate, unexpectedly fresh and citrussy. orange skin and brown candied sugar. After a while this beer turns. The fresh smelling start most definitely wears off and changes into a sweet-smelling kind of funkiness like cold dish water! Absolutely strange and interesting. I guess the turn comes from the yeast warming up, and there is quite a lot of yeast floating in my glass (sets slowly).

Taste: Again fresh and syrupy. Excellent balance between the sweet, the bitter and the freshness. It’s even less acidic than expected. Very nice, lovely stuff. Very late character building bitterness comes through, with a nice fresh green spiciness to it.

Optically not pleasing with all those flakes floating around, but especially the palate is great. Probably not for ageing, but when tasting this blindfolded, I guess the extra ageing did improve this beer (and it probably changed a lot over time). I will have to try a new bottle of this Beer soon, just for comparison of course!

Points: 83

Grimbergen Optimo Bruno (10%, 33 cl)

Erkend Belgisch Abdijbier logoGrimbergen is somewhat of a (commercial) giant amongst Belgian Abbey Beers. Only Leffe sells more beer. It already was big when Scottish & Newcastle were the owners but when that company was bought by Dutch Beer Giants Heineken, well… Next question, is Grimbergen any good? At this point I don’t know, but I picked this Optimo Bruno to find out. Optimo Bruno saw the light of day in 1988 as a beer specially made for easter. Grimbergen Beers are made by Alken-Maes from Waarloos, not to far from the abbey. The top fermented Beers are made L’Union in Jumet. (Top fermenting means that the yeast lies on top of the wort). Last but not least, the beer did not receive post fermentation in the bottle, so even extended ageing (2 years past its best before date) kept this beer “clean” and there is no deposit.

The order of the Premonstratensians (White Canons) was founded in 1120 by Saint Norbert. Saint Norbert also founded the Abbey of Grimbergen, and in that way the abbey is quite unique. In its history, the abbey was ruined four times! But every time the abbey was rebuilt, therefore the label of the beer has a Fenix on it and the credo: ‘Ardet Nec Consumitur’ (Burnt but not consumed).

Grimbergen Optimo BrunoColor: Brown, a little bit of cream-colored foam.

Nose: Fresh and acidic. Candied sugar. Yeasty and absolutely murky! Not the nicest smelling beer around. Funky stuff, but not off-putting.

Taste: Deep and brooding. Again yeasty and some acidity. Nice warming taste. Hints of toast and burned sugar in the aftertaste. Dried plums and dates. When Belgian beer is called Belgium’s answer to wine, they probably had this in mind, or should I say, in their mouth. Very distinct beer. Quite bitter finish and especially in the aftertaste. A bitterness like this just fits the speciality this beer is. Unique stuff. Nice balance between the toasted Sugar and the acidity.

Again a well aged beer, so I can’t tell you how a fresh one tastes yet. Definitely not your every day drinker and maybe not for everyone, but when you choose the moment perfectly, you’ll know this is special. Best tasted in big gulps (again).

Points: 84

Tongerlo Prior Tripel (9%, 33 cl)

The Tongerlo beers are brewed by brewery Haacht, and they are doing so since 1990 (when they got the rights to this Abbey beer). I’m sad to report that a few years ago, brewery Haacht, in all its infinite wisdom, have decided to delete Tongerlo Tripel. That’s a sad thing since I really liked that one. To make up for it, they replaced it with another Tripel. It’s called Tongerlo Prior Tripel and the golden-yellow label is replaced by a brooding black one. Tongerlo Prior Tripel is made with Saaz hops and, compared with the old Tripel ,a new kind of yeast. They also upped the ABV from 8% to 9%. This beer is fermented (additionally in the bottle) and the brewery advises to pour the yeast depot in your glass for a bigger and bolder flavor, but it’s also possible to leave the depot in the bottle with a small amount of beer to be consumed separately. Advised drinking temperature is 7º C.

Even this new Tripel got the chance to age for 2,5 years after it’s best before date. You may think I’m mad, but with most Belgian beers it only adds to the character, don’t worry you, won’t get sick. Breweries are obliged to put a short-term on the label, but are starting to add the bottling date. Frank Boon decided to stretch the best before date far beyond the standard three years and easily puts best before dates twenty years into the future!

Tongerlo Prior TripelColor: Orange yellow with some flakes (due to ageing). Almost white foam.

Nose: Fresh and half-yeasty. Citrus acidity. Warm lemon curd. Linen and again some yeast. Pretty straightforward.

Taste: Estery and half bitter. Orange peel. The whole is quite warming. The whole taste seems a bit toned down, but when taken in a big gulp, it becomes quite chewy and gains a lot of character. An explosion of flavor so to speak. Nice, and not overly acidic. Lemon and oranges. Very fresh at first, but that fades into a heavy, syrupy sweetness. I would call this a winter warmer. Excellent stuff by the way.

I love tripels and this one (again) fits the bill. Compared to Westmalle Tripel this has less of the orange skins and definitely is less bitter. Candied sugar sweetness. I really don’t get the point why the Original tripel was replaced with this one. Although this one is also very nice, the original tripel was (very) different and could have easily kept its place under the stars. The original Tripel was quite fresh and appealing, this Prior is more warming en deeper. It’s like night and day, like summer and winter. They got the labels right too, summery yellow and deep as night black…

Points: 85

Tongerlo Tripel (8%, 33 cl)

The last reviewed beer, Westmalle, was a Trappist beer. This Tongerlo is an example of an ‘Abdijbier’ or Abbey beer. Thus linked to a monastery, yet commercially brewed by Haacht. So no Authentic Trappist Product then, but still a beer in the same style. But hey, this beer has an official hallmark too. It’s a “recognized Belgian abbey beer”.

It turns out this hallmark is issued by the union of Belgian brewers and it seems there are some rules. The hallmark was issued for the first time in 1999 and the rules are slightly different for Abbey beers from before that time, and those that applied afterwards. Some rules are pretty obvious. There are more rules but here are a few: There has to be a link with an Abbey. Part of the proceeds must go to this Abbey and the beer has to be brewed there before (history taken in to account). In this case we are talking about the “Norbertijnen abdij” from 1133! Well my kind of marketing I guess.

Before we move on I (again) have to say that my beer is aged a little and has a best before date of 27/5/10. But this bottle can lie in your cellar much longer.

Color: Clowdy gold.

Nose: Fresh, lemons and oranges. Sour fresh. Not a lot of depot, only some hints of yeast. Still this has undergone a third fermentation stage inside the bottle.

Taste: Oranges and medium bitter. Despite the elevated bitterness also a very nice and fresh and sour note, that makes this extremely drinkable. Appetizingly fruity and it doesn’t even seem to be 8% ABV. Slightly sweet with hints of banana.

A very good beer. I like it a lot. Extremely drinkable Tripel with a very good balance. I would like to have another one please?

Points: 87

Corsendonk Agnus – Tripel (7.5%, 33 cl)

Let’s try another Tripel. Yesterday I was a bit harsh for a beer from one of my favorite categories, The Tripel. So let’s try another Tripel, but this time from Corsendonk. Corsendonk Agnus – Tripel ís an Abbey beer. The Abbey brewed beer themselves in the 17th century. Today the Corsendonk beers are brewed under license elsewhere. The Agnus is brewed by Du Bocq in Purnode Belgium.

As you know life is hard. For this review I had to drink three bottles of the Corsendonk Agnus. I bought a couple of bottles a long time ago that were brewed in august 2006. I tried one of those earlier when it was around three years old, and this time I’m trying two, of the same batch, that are now six years old. Yes you can drink Tripels well past their dont-drink-or-you’ll-die-of-food-poisoning-date. Finally I also bought a new one that was brewed in february 2012. Following notes are for the aged ones:

Color: Orange. Gold with Copper

Nose: Fresh and refreshing. Peaches and lemons. Apricots, very fruity and estery. Lateron spicy and very balanced. Yeast and somewhat perfumed.

Taste: Fruity. Slightly bitter and hoppy. Velvety texture, very smooth. Very drinkable! Elegant, warming alcohol with peels from orange and red grapefruit.

The new bottle was full gold with nice cream foam. A lot of bubbles are surfacing, and no yeast visible. It’s fresher and more appetizing. Fruits are more in the range of apples, lemons, and hints of orange skin, than the estery peach and apricots in the aged bottles. Obviously the new one is far less complex and ‘lighter’ in style. Typical ‘beer’ finish, and aftertaste. Too young!

Well first of all, after the prolonged ageing period, the beer turned a lot darker, than the same batch at a younger age. Originally it was radiant gold, now it turned a lot more copper. The meaty part on the nose disappeared, but it gained a lot of fruity esters. With this it gained a lot of complexity. The three-year old one was more refreshing (more lemon), but this still is refreshing. It gained more depth, but it didn’t even change that much, tastewise. It is easily recognizable as a Corsendonk Tripel. Personally, I find six years of ageing a bit too long. I think it is at it’s best, around three years old. The new batch was, in comparison, very light and really easy to drink, with an aftertaste you only know of your standard beers. After seeing it’s potential I would recommend ageing your bottles for three years. But if you’re interested, longer can be quite fun too. Drinking this right after you bought it is a waste of your money. Put it in your cellar and be patient!

Points: 83

P.S. The cheese from Corsendonk is lovely too!